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Bar cautious on holiday: St. Patrick's Day sees boost in DUI awareness

Posted by Jonathan Warshaw | May 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Despite being one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year, Ocotillo resident Jim Heffernan rarely celebrates St. Patrick's Day.

"I tend to stay home when the amateurs are out getting drunk," Mr. Heffernan said.

Despite Mr. Heffernan's plans, Kristina Grako, owner of Sidelines Tavern and Grill, 2980 S. Alma School Road, said the holiday is her busiest day of the year. She added last year, Sidelines saw more business than it has before or since.

"It was record-breaking numbers," Ms. Grako said.

This year she does not expect to be any different. The bar will serve traditional Irish fare corned beef and cabbage, as well as $2 green beers.

Of course with drinking comes drunkenness and the issues that go along with such activities. Ms. Grako said the bar does not have a drink limit; instead she wants her workers to judge such incidents case by case. She said she has a meeting with her employees before St. Patrick's Day to go over indicators a customer might be drunk and how to handle the situation.

"You just have to be smart," Ms. Grako said.

Should a customer seem too impaired to drive, a bar employee will call a cab, she said.

Arizona law prohibits driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. How many drinks this equates to depends on several factors: age, weight, gender, presence of food, alcohol tolerance, drinker's expectations and emotional state.

The Chandler Police Department is working with the East Valley DUI Task Force but did not have a set security plan for the city by the Independent's press time.

"Nothing is set in stone," Sgt. Richard Greiner said.

The East Valley DUI Task Force plans to have as many as 80 officers from agencies all around the Valley to look for drunk driving and disorderly conduct. Michael Hegarty, spokesman of the Governor's Office of Community and Highway Safety, said he wants people to have fun but stay safe.

"If they plan on drinking, plan on having a ride home and either have a designated driver or a cab," Mr. Hegarty said.

Mr. Hegarty said the Task Force will start increased patrol around 7 p.m. and not stop until 4 a.m.

"This means people can't just avoid one corner like with a checkpoint. They'll be all over the East Valley," Mr. Hegarty said.

Chandler resident Rene Letourneau said the holiday will bring out more drinkers because it falls on a Saturday (March 17) this year. Ms. Letourneau said she would like to see increased police presence and said they should set up checkpoints on the highways. Regardless of what the police plan to do, Ms. Letourneau said it will have little effect on her plans for the evening.

"I would prefer to stay put," Ms. Letourneau said.

Ms. Grako said the weekend will ensure many people will be drinking across the country.

"Since it's on a Saturday, it's going to be all day and all night," Ms. Grako said. "People that don't even drink, (will) drink."

Mr. Heffernan remains unconvinced the holiday will bring out droves of beer-drinkers.

"I don't think it's any more than the Fourth of July or any other holiday," Mr. Heffernan said.

By Kelsi Martin, Independent Newspapers

About the Author

Jonathan Warshaw

I am a former police officer with the Mesa Police Department and was involved in arresting hundreds of people for DUIs and other criminal offenses. Now, I can use that experience to help you. I understand how police officers think, what they do in the field, and what kinds of information gets left out of a police report. As a Gilbert criminal defense attorney, I work to investigate your case, analyze the evidence, and interview the police to find everything possible to win your case.

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